The International Year of Indigenous Languages officially launched

Tuesday, 29 January 2019
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AIATSIS CEO, Craig Ritchie speaking at the official launch of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in Paris. Photo: courtesy DFAT

The CEO of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Craig Ritchie, has heralded a big year ahead in 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL).

Attending the official launch in Paris, Mr Ritchie, who is also the Co-chair of the International Steering Committee for IYIL, stressed the value of Indigenous languages world-wide and that the year represents a united, global effort to promote, appreciate and revitalise Indigenous languages.

“Language is more than just a means of communication. It is a repository for history, wisdom, identity and culture. Indigenous languages contain unique systems of knowledge that are valuable to our modern challenges. They are also fundamental to the world’s cultural diversity and social integration. The good health of Indigenous languages is in everyone’s best interest,” Mr Ritchie said.

“More than 250 Indigenous Australian language groups were present on our continent at the time of European settlement in 1788. Today, only 13 of these languages have a sufficient number of young people speaking them to sustain the language into the future. The research shows that knowledge of language helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people strengthen their cultural identity, integral to health and wellbeing and by extension, the health and wellbeing of society as a whole.”

“Although the challenges facing Indigenous languages are considerable, we are looking forward to working with our partners locally and globally to promote the vitality of Indigenous languages and to unite in our celebration throughout the year.”

“I’m very pleased to be a part of the global effort to highlight the situation of Indigenous languages this year. At AIATSIS we have a full program of activity which people can find on our website.”

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Last reviewed: 24 Jul 2019